Trump’s dishonesty: Breaking down six weeks, 328 false claims

Here’s a breakdown of what he was most dishonest about, when he was most dishonest and where he was most dishonest.

Over these six weeks, 26% of Trump’s false claims were at least in part about the economy. Twenty-three percent were at least in part about Democrats, 18% about trade, 16% about China. Immigration was down in the fifth spot, at 13%.

Notable: Former President Barack Obama, rarely far from Trump’s thoughts, made the top 10. Trump has regularly tried to erase or rewrite his predecessor’s record.

(A methodology note: Many of Trump’s false claims touch on multiple subjects. A single claim about how his tariffs on China are affecting the economy, for example, could be given four labels: economy, trade, tariffs, China. Therefore, the percentages do not add up to 100%.)

Trump’s top individual false claims

As Trump’s tariffs on China have come under intense scrutiny, he has repeated over and over — 19 times over these six weeks — that it is China, not the US, that is paying for the tariffs. Study after study has found this is false.

Trump said 14 times that the Democrats — or the particular Democrat he happened to be talking about — support “open borders.” While there is an argument that he is using metaphorical language rather than making a literal claim, we disagree. He tends to suggest that his opponents are literally advocating uncontrolled migration, which is just not true.

The third-place false claim, which he uttered 11 times, is perhaps the biggest whopper on the list: his boast that he is the one who got the Veterans Choice health program passed after other presidents failed for years (often “44 years”).

As we keep having to point out, Veterans Choice was created by a John McCain-Bernie Sanders bill signed into law by Obama in 2014. Trump signed the VA MISSION Act, which expanded and modified the Choice program.

Trump’s false claims by day

There was no identifiable frequency trend over these six weeks, just one unavoidable fact: if Trump was talking a bunch, he was probably making a bunch of false claims.

He made 37 in one day, August 15, during which he held a rally in New Hampshire, did two interviews with New Hampshire media and spoke to reporters for 15 minutes.
He made 35 false claims on August 1, during which he held a rally in Ohio, did one local interview and had a 19-minute exchange with reporters. And he made 30 false claims on August 13, when he delivered a rambling speech in Pennsylvania and spoke to reporters for 11 minutes.

Where Trump made the most false claims

A Trump rally typically consists of the President talking for at least an hour about whatever he wants. In other words, a Trump rally tends to involve many false claims. Over this six-week period, a mere three rallies — in Ohio, New Hampshire and North Carolina — were enough to make rallies the second-most-common venue for Trump’s false claims, with 77 false claims total.

The top venue, with 94 false claims, was his exchanges with reporters.

Trump enjoys answering (or semi-answering) shouted questions with Marine One whirring in the background. These exchanges, which Stephen Colbert calls “Chopper Talk,” have run long in the last month. Trump held forth for 35 minutes on August 21, 33 minutes on August 9, 19 minutes on August 1, 17 minutes on August 2.

One of several advantages of all that rotor noise: He can pretend not to hear any follow-up questions about his false claims.

Trump’s most dishonest individual events

There is a strong correlation between how much Trump talks and how many false claims he makes. According to Trump-tracking website Factba.se, his 91-minute rally speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, in which he made 27 false claims, was the second-longest speech of his presidency, behind only his epic two-hour address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. (He made 60 false claims in that speech.)
Trump tends to make fewer false claims in official speeches than in campaign speeches, since he is usually burdened with a prepared text when he is acting in an official role. On occasion, though, he decides he is bored with the script and treats the official event as if it were a rally. That’s what appeared to happen with his 63-minute speech in Pennsylvania on August 13, which went from a scheduled address on “America’s energy dominance and manufacturing revival” to a 26-false-claim boasts-and-grievances session.
It is perhaps notable that one of Trump’s most dishonest events this summer was a speech to children. Politically active teenagers, sure, but children nonetheless. Trump made 23 false claims in his 79-minute address to a teen summit held by conservative group Turning Point USA.

CNN’s Tara Subramaniam, Aaron Kessler and JoElla Carman contributed to this article.

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